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Archive for August, 2009

Who is a visionary person? It could be “someone guided more by ideals than by practical considerations”; or “a person with unusual powers of foresight”; or “a person given to fanciful speculations and enthusiasms with little regard for what is actually possible”, according to the Thesaurus dictionary.Little would be achieved in this world if it wasn’t for people who believe in their dreams, who have an extraordinary ambition and great capacities that lead them to incredible discoveries.

While we do all have a great potential for achievements- the long-term ones that would change our lives and other people’s- we can also use the technique of “vision” to help us with more immediate goals. Coaches sometimes suggest a simple thing to do, and even if it might seem childish to some of you, it is also extremely useful. A notebook with dreams and goals. Or a collage that you prepare yourself, made of pictures that represent what you want to have and then put on the wall so you can see it and remind yourself of what is important or why you are working so hard. It can have the form that is more convenient to you.

What kind of things do people put in their dream notebook? A house, something they associate with health, the photo of the country you want to travel to, the picture of the women whose body you admire and looking at this image will help you to stick with your diet. It can be literally everything!

A similar technique can be used to “anchor” your dreams. Close your eyes and think of something important that you want to achieve. Now, make it precise. Let’s say that you imagine your dream travel to Paris. Imagine the city. Is it day or night time? Where are you? What do you see? What can you smell? Isn’t the weather just perfect? Take a walk. Go to the hotel where you’re staying. Is it a big hotel or a small one? How is your room? Are you alone? Where do you go for lunch? etc. Just get the perfect picture and as if you were a photographer get the images from this travel, make photos, anchor your dream and goal. Since now, every time you will have doubts concerning this travel, every time it will be hard to save some money for this dream, go back to your mental pictures. Remember that you have the freedom to change them, adapt them to new circumstances, but try not forget them- after all, it’s your dream. Go and get it.

picture your dream

picture your dream

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This morning I thought: “it’s a disaster” and seconds later my own thoughts told me “no, it’s a challenge”. This simple switch of perspective that my brain or conscious thoughts made automatically allowed me to take or plan different set of actions- I know myself and if I would stay with “it’s a disaster” idea, I wouldn’t do anything in particular to change it (because it’s impossible to change a disaster, isn’t it?) or I wouldn’t do anything in particular full stop (the “disaster mode” serves as an excuse for not undertaking any kind of action, not trying, therefore not risking failure or not risking success [for fear of success read my previous posts]). The word disaster, itself, has strong emotional connotations, almost extreme. A word of this strength can easily lead to what is called catastrophic thinking and trigger a feeling of anxiety, helplessness and maybe panic.

I am not exactly sure how I made the switch of perspective into “it’s a challenge”. It’s true that I am interested in positive psychology, I am making some exercises to boost my optimism and I try to read about this subject. But honestly, I was having some serious doubts if it works because I wasn’t feeling more optimistic (or simply less pessimistic), I couldn’t observe any positive changes in my life, etc. And today that thought. The new, empowering perspective.

If I am going through something very difficult, there is nothing (or little) that could have the power of a “challenge” perspective. The challenge motivates me, it gives me strength to persevere in actions I have to undertake, my ambition somehow wakes up and assists me like a supportive friend- “don’t give up” “you are able to achieve it” “you can do much better” “it’s worth the effort”. I like to be able to see things as challenges and then be the winner instead of being the loser from the very beginning (only because I think that there is nothing I can do to change my situation). Challenge feels good.

Different researches in the field of Positive Psychology (mostly by its founder, Dr. Seligman) proved that we do not all have the same predisposition for optimism. Whether you are an optimist or pessimist depends also on the package of genes you received from your family. Of course, the external conditions in your life have also a great influence on your thinking, on your mood and how you perceive what is happening. But still, some people have a predisposition for optimism while other can work on it.

Actually, this discovery is something extremely useful for people who, just like me, don’t have the predisposition for optimism. The lack of predisposition will remain, but you can include in your daily schedule some simple and short exercises which have the potential to enhance the greatest change for you. If you would like to find out more about these exercises, please read Dr. Martin Seligman books or email me for more information. After all, we can all have a good day even if it started with a “disaster” !

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

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The ability to fast and smart decision making is one of the qualities employers are most looking for. Next to the decision making comes the problem solving. And they are right- those two capacities are basic for a manager, a sales person and many many others. They can boost the company’s results, create a new professional relationship or just the contrary- a lack of decision making ability can be pretty destructive for the employer. Therefore many people while looking for a job “advertise” themselves as able to solve all kind of problems in a reasonable (means fast) time.

Are these people also so good, so capable of decision making when it comes to their private lives? Astonishingly, often they aren’t. Managing thousands of dollars, being responsible for super important client accounts, making difficult negotiations seems to some of them a piece of cake, comparing to the need they encounter at home to make decisions concerning their personal lives, very often their relationships.

I believe that some people are hiding their emotional vulnerability or cowardice- let’s call it what it is- and as a result, they are unable to chose with whom they would like to share their lives, who do they really love, what is profoundly important to them at the emotional level.

There may be hundreds of reasons for these auto destructive behaviours. Some of them could be: psychological trauma, taught helplessness, lack of hope, egoism, fear of the unknown, inability to face the truth (until they are given no choice and they have to face it). While strong psychological problems need the help of a professional psychiatrist, other can be solved with coaching or by self-help strategies.

One of these strategies is to use the Mind Map. Mind Maps are extremely useful to organize ideas, make good notes, help you remember what you forgot, or solve a problem. You write in the middle of a blank page a word and start to concentrate on this word (or idea)- the things that will come to your mind may surprise you a lot. The Mind Maps, in the case of the decision making, would be similar to the pro/cons lists. If you have two options to solve the problem, you just write them all down, as they come, and then sum the points (can be: +/- or points for each choice, just like in a list). The solution that has more points “wins”. If the problem can have more than two solutions, do the same. It will be more complicated, but can also help to clear your mind. When you see all you were thinking about written down on the paper, it can become much easier. Below you can see photos of the Mind Maps from Tony Buzan’s book.

If what is causing your problem to make decisions is fear of the unknown, you might like to try exercises that will gradually make you step out of your comfort zone. For instance, if one fears loneliness, he can decide to stay alone at home every day for 20 minutes. The next week, he will try 30 minutes. In one month, he can stay all day alone. The initial exercises should prepare him to feel better when he will be the whole day alone. Then the fear of being alone can go away and deciding why he wants or not to stay in a relationship will be easier, because the fear of loneliness will not obstruct so much his point of view and feelings.

Very often people do know what they would like to do, how they would like their life to change but they face different kind of fears or had previous bad experiences with similar situations which make them unable to make a move. It’s the place for an action plan (see previous posts) where the Support Team will play a crucial role. The Support Team can create a safer place for the person and provide the motivation and strength they need to persist in action and achieve the change.

I am not really sure how can an egoist change. In the hypothetical situation of a married man who has a lover, whose wife discovers that he has an affair, who promises then to end it immediately and tries to reconstruct his marriage while still having an affair, I am speechless. It’s a simple question of making a choice and start an honest life, stop hurt people around him and he can’t. He doesn’t look for help either. He’s an egoist. A coward. And he can still make decisions at work, negotiating the thousands of dollars…

1. Mind Map from Tony Buzan’s book
1. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book
2. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book

2. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book

3. Min Map from Tony Buzan's book

3. Min Map from Tony Buzan's book

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